Friday, May 13, 2011

Wednesday Fare!

I love cooking, as anyone reading this blog would guess or any close friend would testify.  And a lot of things in The Red Plate are special dishes that are more often attached to a special event.  But there are those everyday days when nothing inspires.  My resolve lately has been to insert into my mundane, everyday repertoire, things that are a bit zippier than ordinary while keeping "good for me" in mind.  Strolling through a grocery store is, I must confess, one of my favorite things to do.  Yesterday, after work, I did just that in an attempt to satisfy my need for inspiration.  I don't cook pork very often, but my grocer's meat market had the best looking little boneless, thick-cut pork chops.  Clean and clear of fat. It is the other white meat after all.  Sold!  So back to the produce for some mushrooms and a couple more things and I'm on my way.  Meanwhile, The Horn Player called and gave his stamp of approval on my call for dinner.
Stuffed Chops

Herb and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops

2 thick cut boneless chops
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion (chopped fine)
2 cloves garlic (minced)                                      
4 or 5 Crimini mushrooms (diced)
1/3 cup bread croutons
Marsala wine
Fresh thyme
Fresh oregano (chopped)
Black pepper

Rinse the chops and dry well on a paper towel or two.  Set aside.  Into a small pan add just a shimmer of olive oil, not much is required.  Add the onions and cook briefly then add garlic.  When the onion/garlic begins to soften add the mushrooms and maintain a medium/high heat.  Toss in the croutons and stir well.

Note: A word about the croutons.  I bought salad croutons that were Fat Free and very small in size.  No seasoning at all.  This is used as a binder for the stuffing.

Splash in a bit of Marsala.  Stir well to deglaze the pan.  It will take 2 or 3 splashes of Marsala to achieve the right consistency for stuffing.  Plus the more wine you add and allow to reduce, the more flavor base.  Taste as you go.  Lastly add the fresh herbs; I used 4 or 5 dainty sprigs of thyme and 1 sprig of oregano with several nice sized leaves.  You'll want enough to give it a nice herbal perfume.  Ahhh...smells Mediterranean.  Stir in the herbs and set aside while you prep the chops.

Using a sharp knife, make slits in the side of the chops to form a pocket.  Stuff the mushroom mixture into the pocket tightly and secure with picks or kitchen twine.  

Note: At this point the chops could actually be wrapped and tossed in the fridge for cooking later.  

Salt and pepper the outside of the meat to your taste.  Add a touch of oil to an iron skillet and bring to a moderately high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides and place the chops (in the skillet) into a 350 degree oven until done.  This will not take very long, watch closely.  DO NOT overcook.  Remove and rest under foil for about 5 minutes; slice and serve.  

1 sliced - 1 not sliced
I served the sliced chops over wilted spinach with a spritz of lemon juice and a sliced tomato with salt and pepper.  Voila, Wednesday dinner.  It's easy and really good stuff.

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